Best Manga Where The MC Goes From Weak To StrongThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
When it comes to good manga, progression and character development are the name of the game.
I mean, what’s the fun in watching a main character who never undergoes any sort of change?
(A few characters like Saitama are exceptions)
Character growth, simply put, is like an “investment” for the readers. It gives some kind of satisfaction (or disappointment) as we follow along with the story.
To that end, the premise of “weak-to-strong” MCs can drive up the sense of anticipation.
So if you’re a “weak-to-strong” junkie like me, then here’s a handful of manga recommendations that might just satisfy your craving.
12. Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon
Fun note: this is among a few manga on this list that feature an inhuman lead.
As the title suggests, Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon is a story about a nameless skeleton who once failed to protect his master.
However, this skeleton isn’t just some mob character that dies easily. He has the ability to go back in time every time he dies.
Basically, this means he cannot be killed permanently through any means (at least as far as the current chapters imply).
Of course, this means that he can get stronger by taking advantage of his ability to go through countless processes of trial and error. And so he did.
Lots and lots of times…
11. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
Isekai is well-known when it comes to instant MC power-ups.
Along with some pure unapologetic wish-fulfillment tropes.
Well Arifureta is a good example of an isekai manga that embodies this cliché very well.
Its story focuses on Nagumo Hajime — your typical average high school boy who’s betrayed by his classmates, yadda yadda yadda, then he becomes OP, you know the drill!
Sure it does have its flaws.
But what makes it stand out in my opinion is how it handles the MC’s power progression.
Simply put, the sudden growth in Hajime’s power level directly correlates to the complete 180 of his psyche – which wmakes his journey to being an anti-hero all the more intriguing to read about.
10. So I’m a Spider, So What?
Nobody likes spiders. There, I said it!
But if you’re one of those few people who doesn’t mind them, my hat’s off to you.
Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy this manga even more than I did.
I have to say, despite my bias against spiders, “So I’m a Spider, so what?” is still a title I’d highly recommend for every power progression manga fan out there.
In a nutshell, it’s about another isekai’d student. But instead of being reincarnated as a humanoid per usual, they’re instead reincarnated as a cute ‘lil spider.
In every page we see Kumoko adapt to her new life as a monster, which is where half the fun comes from here.
(P.S. the other half of the fun is from watching her hunt prey to become stronger).
Much like “So I’m a Spider, So What” and “Skeleton Soldier”, Re:Monster features a literal monster as an MC.
More specifically, it’s about a goblin named Rou who’s also originally from Earth until he got isekai’d upon his death.
While he’s indeed one of those characters that you’d usually find as fodder in a video game, Rou actually has one of the coolest abilities on this list:
Simply put, he can absorb the ability of the monsters that he defeats, simply by eating them.
Luckily Rou had got an appetite that would rival even that of Saiyans.
And in this manga, a limitless appetite basically means limitless power-ups!
8. Is it Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon?
We’ve probably all heard of this one by now, but if you haven’t then it’s worth a read.
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick up Girls in a Dungeon? isn’t just your typical run-off-the-mill harem story with swords, magic, game-world elements.
Instead, it’s a well-drawn and well-written manga that (in my opinion) served as an inspiration to many others of the same genre. Especially many newer isekai series.
And with the added benefit of being within the ecchi harem genre, it’s not just the art style and storytelling that hooks you in with this one. If you know what I mean…
7. Dungeon Seeker
Speaking of manga that hooks you in, here we have Dungeon Seeker — a very compelling title that’ll never cease to surprise you.
In fact, it’s one of the few good isekai mangas that I myself would absolutely personally recommend to almost any fan of the genre.
And to be honest, I would do the same even if you’re not a fan of progression stories — which is one aspect that Dungeon Seeker excels at.
What makes this manga unique, you ask?
All I have to say is that it’s one of the few wish-fulfillment mangas that makes its weak MC powerful in one fell swoop – but not really enough that they seem invincible.
There are still very real threats even after all the powerups that Junpei (our MC) receives every major battle, which makes the story even more thrilling.
6. The Rising of the Shield Hero
The Rising of the Shield Hero is one of the more popular titles released over the past decade or so.
And yes, it is simply that good.
First off, we have a betrayed underdog MC named Naofumi Iwatani, who’s also blessed with the worst weapon out of all four heroes.
Not that he lets it stop him from getting stronger, though.
Despite the hardships, you can expect Naofumi to find some sort of advantage for him to exploit in order to get ahead of the others.
We’re taking a step back from isekai’d, reincarnated, and inhuman MCs with Holyland.
This is truly an underrated manga series that somehow still doesn’t have an anime adaptation.
Holyland is an oddly realistic yet thrilling take on a classic “weak and timid” MC.
It revolves around a teenage boy named Shuu, who doesn’t really have a purpose in life — until he discovers that he enjoys training and beating other people up.
All in all, while the artwork here is a little dated, I would say its superb plot and its satisfying ending more than make up for the very minor flaws.
Well worth checking out.
4. My Hero Academia
On the topic of near-flawless manga series…
My Hero Academia is a title that has spawned countless anime episodes and movies. It’s big.
And it’s fair to say that MHA as a series has probably exceeded all expectations.
Led by our favorite moss-head main character, Izuku Midoriya (sorry Zoro), MHA is basically the go-to shonen manga if you’re searching for an MC who really knows how to put in work to become stronger
Bolstered by a ton of memorable side characters, almost every anime fan out there would have a hard time passing this manga up.
And I sure hope you give it a try if you haven’t yet – especially if you’re already a fan of the anime.
3. Hajime no Ippo
If we’re talking about hard work, then how could we ever forget one of the best sports manga series ever made?
Hajime no Ippo starts out pretty simple:
It’s the story of a weak-willed bullied boy who, upon discovering boxing, also discovers his true purpose in life – which is to find out what it truly means to be strong.
This is one of the few manga where you can actually see the improvement over time, in terms of artwork and paneling.
But then again, it has over a thousand chapters by now (and still counting!)
So it really isn’t all that surprising that the quality has seen a steady increase through the years.
2. Black Clover
Black Clover offers a brilliant fantasy manga that’s set in a world full of magic.
But in an amusing twist of irony, we also get an MC who doesn’t even have magic that’s fitted into the show’s main lead.
Yet Asta isn’t someone who’d give up just because of a “minor disadvantage” (his words, not mine).
Instead he strives for the highest position a mage can achieve — the Wizard King.
Asta holding this grand ambition means that we get double the training and progression scenes compared to most of the usual “weak-to-strong” MCs out there.
And that’s pretty darn awesome.
1. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Coming in at number one, we have an isekai title that most manga readers (progression fans or not) would definitely enjoy.
For TTIGRAAS, absorption is pretty much the name of the game.
While the concept of this skill isn’t actually that uncommon (note that Rou and Kumoko both have a similar ability), this manga does it differently enough that it stands out a lot as its own thing.
And let’s be honest: we’ve got a truly unique MC here.
Rimiru is absolutely one of the most easily-distinguishable isekai characters of all time.
And his absorption skill is also unique in the sense that it can only be done by a former fodder power-hungry “slime” character like him.
If you’ve yet to check out this series (or if you already enjoy the anime) then absolutely give this manga a try.